Tag Archives: help

The ‘We’ Behind Catch a Cure

familypicWhen writing blogs or social media posts concerning Catch a Cure, I’ve tended to use the pronoun ‘we,’ referring to my effort, when addressing those of you kind enough to take a look at my project.

Lately, I’ve felt somewhat foolish, because the pictures you see of a guy holding fish, the pictures you see of a Jeep on the road with a driver, those pictures are (except for the incredible guys I’ve fished with from Oklahoma to the BassOnline crew in Florida to South Carolina) are mostly… well, me.

But I’m not trying to “create” the perception that it’s a team rather than an individual effort, because that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

When I’m home in Upstate New York, I reside at my grandmother’s house. I tell people it’s so that I can help her out (she is 82 and no longer drives and can use a hand with the heavy lifting like laundry, grocery shopping, and the like) but the opposite — namely that she helps me, with almost every aspect of life — is every bit as true, if not moreso.

My aunt, Erin Wheelock, was kind enough to ship out our first online order of shirts the other day, and has helped in numerous aspects of the project as well.

Another aunt, Tara Healey, helped me design the route and contact vendors along the way where I might sell the shirts, and is a source of daily inspiration.

My mother, well… there are not words. She has encouraged every dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

My cousins Everett Lockwood, and Joe and Chris Critelli, all roughly my age, are always inspiring me with outdoor ideas, their passion, and we can always pull a funny, hillarious, or outrageous memory from our childhoods to get a laugh when we need one.

We all need a ‘we’ in our lives, and those are some of mine. They have not been as blessed as I have, to travel, to fish, and to meet so many of the amazingly kind anglers that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, which makes their effort, help and support all the more amazing and selfless.

But to not mention them, recognize them, and thank them… every chance that I get… would be a tremendous mistake on my part. And even if they were not, could not be, with me on the water, on the road, they were with me every step of the way. And to quote the late, great Muhammad Ali: “”Anywhere I go, there is always an incredible crowd that follows me.”

My crowd is smaller, but no less incredible, and I wouldn’t be here, doing this, writing, fishing or fighting cancer without them.

The Heart and Soul Behind Catch a Cure

12091395_10102696255289636_8511669274550224479_oI’ve had a few very kind anglers praise this project, and my ambition to eradicate skin cancer from our planet, and I’m grateful for every kind word, but I’d be remiss to take some kind of credit when there are people, and one specifically, who might not be blogging, who might not be on Facebook, but who is a hundred times the human being I will ever be, and who inspires me every day.

Pictured above is Marilyn Jones, my hero and my best and oldest friend. Ms. Jones, or ‘Nana’ as she’s know to those of us close to her, reminds me every day, every time I’m home, and with each phone conversation, how strong a human being can be, what we can endure, and how we can remain positive.

Marilyn Jones was born in 1934 into poverty, and has worked almost every day of her entire life. More than that, she has created a unique, accepting and loving atmosphere for her seven children and 13 grandchildren… a place where we all feel “home,” in a way we might not anywhere else.

When grandchildren started coming (I was the first in 1986), Marilyn closed up the doors of her yarn shop, where she knitted amazingly beautiful garments and sewed anything that needed mending, and began caring for the next generation. She watched me, my younger cousins, and a host of fortunate toddlers in Upstate New York and saw them through to the beginnings of adulthood. I have friendships to this day that were born in that daycare, and some of my closest friends are from those earliest days.

I am not, nor will I ever be a good enough writer to express how kind and compassionate, strong and beautiful of a woman this is, and I’d do her an injustice just in trying. In a single day, she’ll tell me she’ll mend ripped jeans, cook something delicious for dinner, tell stories from her past that will make you laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh, and do it all in such a way that reminds you that there is nothing in life you cannot overcome… indeed she has been faced with and challenged by the most heartbreaking of human conditions, whether that was losing loved ones, suffering medical difficulties herself, or… most recently, losing her beloved West Highland White Terrier, Duffy.

But before she even has breakfast or reads the paper, takes her myriad of medications that keep her functioning as best she can, she has an idea for what to do that day, what can be accomplished, what problem can be fixed, what hope can be sewn where there was none before.

She is everything, every day, that I hope that I might some day become, and I am the most fortunate of men to have had her presence in my life for as long as I can remember.

Ten Times Anglers Have Reminded me Why I’m One

DSC_0088 11For many of us, “becoming” a fisherman isn’t necessarily a choice we give a lot of thought to. Often we’re handed a rod when we’re young, and if we’re lucky, we never really set it down. But there is a difference between becoming an angler and being an angler… and so many men and women I’ve met in my travels have proven time and again why anglers, and all outdoorsmen for that matter, are a type of human being you want on your side, in your corner and who, more than anything, you’d like to share some of this beautiful thing called life with. There are hundreds of times in my life this much has been proven true, but here are ten that are particularly memorable.

10. When I was fishing my way around the country in 2010, a marine artist and angler in the Florida Keys, named Pasta Pantaleo, noticed that I was sleeping in my Jeep in bar parking lots . He offered me his couch, and although I don’t think he realized I’d be there for the better part of a month, waiting on a celebrity to interview, he never once suggested that my company was anything but welcome.

9. On that same journey, a guy named Chris Senyohl, a guide in Seattle, put me up for more than a week and took me salmon fishing, sea-run cutthroat fishing, and even let me tag along for a pheasant hunt.

8. In this past year at Emerson, a professor (and angler) named Gian Lombardo has taken my effort to raise money for the Melanoma Research Foundation, and helped me turn it into an academic endeavor to give it added depth and purpose.

7. That effort wouldn’t be possible without a precedent set on Catch a Cure, thanks to Todd Smith and the guys at Outdoor Sportsman Group.

6. When I was an intern at Field & Stream, the then assistant web editor (now fishing editor) Joe Cermele made sure I wasn’t lost in the shuffle: He invited me fishing more Fall weekends than he didn’t, and when he was busy, he always made it a point to pull up a map online, and give me suggestions about beaches to fish.

5. In 2009, the guys at On The Water Magazine had more faith in a young aspiring editor than, at the time, he had in himself.

4. When I returned from the road, a guy named Brian McClintock invited me on board a publishing project he and his team was working on at the time called GoFISHn, and for almost two years, I got to live the dream: To write for a living.

3. I have three cousins, one a month younger than me, one two years younger, and one three years younger, all anglers, who for as long as I can remember, have stayed in touch, shared a laugh, and never failed to lift my spirits.

2.That multi-state fishing mission (#10) would not be possible were it not for a guy named Gerry Bethge at Outdoor Life, who believed a 23-year-old kid who claimed he was going to fish his way around the country, and gave him the means to do it.

1. My father, a man who by all accounts spent his share of time in woods hunting as a young man, never for a second discouraged me from chasing the dream of writing about the water.